History and Philosophy


Wright School has provided residential treatment and special education services since 1963 for children identified with behavioral, emotional and learning difficulties. The school was established as part of Project Re-ED, a National Institute of Mental Health demonstration project created by Nicholas Hobbs, Ph.D.

Re-Education (Re-Ed) is a nationally recognized alternative to traditional medical mental health treatment. Wright School helps each child’s family, school and community work cooperatively to meet the child’s special needs. Full participation in the Re-Ed process by parents is the single most important factor in a child’s increased success in life. Wright School’s Liaison Teacher Counselors (LTCs) help family members, informal family support systems and professionals from community agencies to create a focused treatment team with a common vision for meeting a child’s special needs.

Many children are referred to Wright School because of problems with behavior and social skills. The highly-structured, predictable program offers many chances for children to learn how they are doing as they go through the schedule of a normal day: school, chores, play, personal health and homework. Teacher counselors provide direct instruction in anger management, problem solving and communication with other children and adults. Other children in the group help with this process.

Day, Evening and Liaison teacher counselors oversee assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating each child’s individual treatment program with the assistance of the unit’s Clinical Coordinator. Resource teachers, assessment team members and specialized consultants complete the treatment team.


Wright School is one of 14 facilities overseen by the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities (DSOHF)within the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The program is based on the National Institute of Mental Health research of Dr. Nicholas Hobbs for the treatment of children with serious emotional disorders.
Wright School was one of two programs opened and dedicated to the provision of this evidence-based approach to help children with the most severe disorders. Re-ED is a pioneering treatment approach that focuses on the child’s family and community system. The model strongly advocates that the child cannot be treated in isolation, and does not require the child be “cured” prior to return to their home and community; rather, the focus is on developing the family system in an integrated manner to alleviate dysfunction in the system, not in the child. The Re-ED approach believes that “curing” the mental illness is not necessary to return the eco-system to health.

Wright School recognizes that the mental health of children and their families is innately linked, and one impacts each other. When one member of this human “ecosystem” (child or family) is struggling, all members are impacted. Over time, the family system can become so damaged that it can no longer heal itself. As such, the Wright School’s goal is to work with members of the ecology, together and individually, to restore the system’s ability to help itself. Adherence to the Re-ED approach is recovery-oriented as the model encourages hope and focuses on strengths. In the end, the underlying belief is that all families want to be successful.

The Re-ED model implemented by the Wright School integrates treatment into the daily lives of the children and is based on the philosophy that successful living must occur across their lives in the home, school and community. Because children in the latency age group (ages 6-13) spend considerable time in school, success in school plays a vital role in developing a sense of mastery and competence. Much of the treatment at the Wright School occurs in the classroom.

As a treatment modality, Re-ED is focused on the present moment in time. There is a conscious shift away from the exploration of past events and issues towards the development of skills to support the current family situation. This approach differs from some therapeutic models that encourage deep exploration of the past including generational issues.